Coroner demands police procedures probe

Leah Davies

Leah Davies

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A WIGAN teenager who died in an horrific crash was riding a motorcycle without an appropriate power restrictor.

And the second teenage victim of the collision may have put herself in a vulnerable position in the road, a Bolton inquest heard.

Narrative verdicts were recorded by Deputy Coroner Alan Walsh into the cases of Ryan Smith, 18, and Leah Davies, 19, who died as a consequence of injuries sustained in the collision which occurred in July of last year.

At the end of the inquest a senior police officer was summoned by the coroner to hear criticism of the way in which officers obtained witness statements for the case.

On the second day of the hearing in a packed council chamber in Bolton, the families and friends of the tragic pair heard evidence from Serious Collision Investigator PC David Poole who calculated from tyre markings left at the scene that Mr Smith would have been travelling between 38 and 46mph at the time of the collision.

Mr Smith’sHonda 600cc struck Ms Davies’ Yamaha bike at the junction of Fourmarts Road and Hillridge Road at just before 11.30pm while she was “edging out” and was “either stationary or travelling at a very slow speed”, the court was told.

Pc Poole explained that the speed calculation “must be viewed as an underestimate, but it is as accurate as I can be” in regard to Mr Smith’s bike at the time of the fatal impact. The speed limit for the road on Martland Park Industrial Estate is 30mph. Officers found that Mr Smith’s 600cc bike was not fitted with a restrictor in keeping with the terms of his driving licence with regard to his young age.

Pc Poole’s report from the scene also stated that due to the position of Ms Davies’ vehicle as it pulled out of the road that “the whole of the headlight may not have been visible. It was a black bike at night therefore rendering her less conspicuous” and that she may have remained in a “vulnerable” position in the road.

Earlier in the day the court heard from Conor Hulme, who was also injured in the crash. He had been stationed adjacent to the junction with Hillridge Road, when one of the bikes rebounded into him.

Mr Hulme, who was 17 at the time, told the court he had witnessed the accident and moments before had motioned to Ms Davies after she had emerged into the road but not while she was waiting at the junction.

He also told the court that he had heard the sound of Mr Smith’s bike and saw the headlight moments before the impact.

After recording his verdict and passing on his condolences to the families of both victims, Mr Walsh addressed Chf Insp Rachel Buckle of GMP, who had been summoned to the court, to request an investigation into how officers had retrieved witness statements from the teenagers.

One was visited on a building site while working by officers in order to sign his statement, while some of the statements had been pre-dated, giving a false impression of when they were taken, the court heard.

Mr Walsh said: “I am appalled that may have happened, it is of vital importance that these statements are conducted in the correct manner.”